This is the handiest travel battery you can buy [Review]

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As battery packs go, this one looks pretty good.
As battery packs go, this one looks pretty good.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The ZMI PowerPack 20000 is the most useful backup battery you can buy. It packs a huge, 20,000mAh battery that can power a MacBook and two other devices at the same time. Plus, you can quick charge it via USB. And it can even work as a USB data hub.

This 14.29-ounce (405 gram) brick might be overkill for daily juicing of your iPhone, but for everything else it’s amazing.

Bluetooth box bridges gap between iPhone and studio monitor speakers

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The Kali Bluetooth Input Module
The Kali Bluetooth Input Module puts a big knob on your desk.
Photo: Kali Audio

Problem: You have a kick-ass stereo, or a pair of excellent studio monitor speakers, and you want to hook up your iPhone to listen to some music. Only you don’t want to dig out the headphone dongle and plug in a cable.

Solution: The Kali Audio Bluetooth Module. It hooks up to your speakers via cable, adding a Bluetooth receiver that lets you get the music out of your iPhone or iPad. It seems simple, and it is. But it’s also super-duper handy.

Travel tips: How to choose and use noise-canceling headphones

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Maybe it's time for a set noise-canceling headphones, amirite?
Maybe it's time for a set cable-canceling headphones, amirite?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Noise-canceling headphones are fantastic. They cut down on traffic noise, airplane rumble and even — to a certain extent — the racket from that never-ending construction work across the street. Not only is life more pleasant without this noise pollution, but less background noise is also healthier for your ears.

Because you’re not trying to drown out the ambient noise with your music, you can set the volume lower, thus preserving your hearing (as well as your sanity).

Today we’ll see how to choose from the different kinds of available noise-canceling headphones, and how to use them. What this won’t be is a buyer’s guide — although I do have some recommendations based on personal use.

This is the messenger bag Don Draper would carry

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Briefcase messenger bag
Perfect for the office, or the martini bar
Photo: SF Bags

Look, it’s yet another beautiful bag from San Francisco’s WaterField Designs. The Executive Leather Messenger is a modern take on the briefcase, designed for MacBooks, iPads and chargers, instead of clipboards, papers and cigarettes.

That’s not to say that you can’t take this to a martini bar, or fill it with analog vapers and “artisanal emails” (aka written letters), if you want to.

Learners will love Roli’s colorful, light-up piano keyboard

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musician playing roli lumi
Look at how much fun it is to play. Just look.
Photo: Roli

Roli is best known for its squishy, multitouch, pressure-sensitive music keyboards and controllers. Those are great. But the new Roli Lumi goes in a different direction. It’s a small portable keyboard with light-up keys. And not the kind of light-up keys you might see in a movie set during the 1970s disco scene: These light up keys help you learn to play the piano.

Piano lessons will never be the same.

Wildly customizable keyboard unleashes iPad creativity

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The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
Photo: Sensel

The Sensel Morph is a different kind of “keyboard” for the iPad or Mac. It’s a pressure-sensitive panel onto which you can slap various silicone overlays, turning it from a QWERTY keyboard into a piano, a movie-editing controller or many other specialized interfaces.

It’s a customizable, wildly imaginative input device designed for musicians, video editors, illustrators, writers and other creative types.

Pad & Quill’s Oxford iPad Sleeve swallows a 2018 iPad Pro and Magic keyboard

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The Oxford Sleeve is like a tiny mobile office. An office made out of leather.
The Oxford Sleeve is like a tiny mobile office. An office made out of leather.
Photo: Pad & Quill

Pad & Quill’s leather Oxford iPad Sleeve is an utter bargain at its sale price of $119.95. I have owned a similar sleeve for years, one that was originally conceived to fit a MacBook, and it’s softer and more beautiful now than when I got it.

Will we be able to say the same for Apple’s $99 iPad Pro Smart Folio (for which I paid $135)? The answer is almost certainly “No.”

This amazing shoulder bag is just big enough to empty your pockets into

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Who needs pockets when you have the Sutter Sling?
Who needs pockets when you have the Sutter Sling Pouch?
Photo: SF Bags

Only in the United States do men try to carry all their essential out-of-home possessions in their pockets. Wallet, keys, phone, spare battery, AirPods, Leatherman. So wedded are men to this principal that they ridicule small bags by calling them “murses.” Either that, or they use things like cellphone holsters or fanny packs, which are pretty much social death.

In Europe (but not in the U.K.), men just carry small bags. And they call them “bags,” or whatever the local name is. Whatever, it’s definitely not el murse. Now, men in the U.S. can catch up to the the rest of the world with WaterField Designs’ Sutter Sling Pouch, a gentleman’s handbag that’s just big enough for you to empty your pockets into.

The perfect minimalist travel kit for iPhone and iPad fans

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The Bagsmart travel organizer
Everything in its place.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I don’t travel much, but when I do, I like to do it properly. And by “properly,” I mean with all my gadgets organized. Yes, you can drop your chargers into the bottom of your backpack or suitcase. Or you can stuff them into a pocket.

But they’ll get damaged, you’ll end up losing something, and if you need to take out one charger, adapter, dongle or cable, you’ll end up dropping the rest all over the floor of the departure lounge.

You need to get organized, and here’s one great way to do it.

OP-Z pocket synthesizer uses the iPhone as its screen

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It’s tiny, yet more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
It’s tiny, yet more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Photo: Teenage Engineering

This is Teenage Engineering’s amazing OP-Z, a tiny, TV-remote-size synthesizer and sequencer that has no screen, and yet manages to pack in a range of features that make users of “real” music hardware and software jealous. And if you do prefer working on a screen, you can hook it up to your iPhone via Bluetooth and use that.